Friday, July 27, 2012

Another Freeloader!

The other day I looked out the window and saw the woodchuck eating out of the cat food dish!  Whaaat?  In all the years I've been here and seen the woodchucks, I had never seen them eat cat food before.   I thought, 'well, that's not good for it; aren't they strictly herbivores?'  Even though I have done several woodchuck posts, I had forgotten that they do indeed eat insects, snails and other small animals.  So eating cat food is not really 'off-diet', just another freeloader I can add to the list!  Here are a few pictures I took this morning proving my observations.  The first few are full of reflections because I had to take them through the storm door, plus it was a cloudy day.  Caught in the act!

After all that dry cat food, a drink of water is in order.

My neighbors' cat Tigger loves to hang out with the woodchucks.  I think he's fascinated by them.

Thank goodness I get plenty of dry cat food from the folks who have helped spay and neuter all of our stray cats.  They probably have no idea how many other animals and birds are grateful for their generosity.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Wickford, RI II

Here are just a few more of the photos I took on my trip to Wickford.  The title of this post is deceptive though because none of these photos were actually taken in Wickford.  All were taken in stops along the route back to Providence and most in another little village of Pawtuxet.

The last two photos are almost identical but I was trying to capture all those white dots out in the harbor.  You see the two swans in the foreground, but all the white dots out further are also swans!  There must have been a hundred of them.  Not sure what attracted them to that particular place, but whatever it was they were definitely congregating to it.  Also lots of ducks and a couple little sandpipers.  A very popular spot!

For more on the history of Pawtuxet Village, click here.  For more on Wickford, RI click here.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Butterfly Bush II

In my previous Butterfly Bush post I said that I hadn't seen any swallowtails this year.  They are finally back!

Both the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail...

and the Black Swallowtail.

I was lucky to get any decent pictures of the black swallowtail - it kept fluttering his wings almost the entire time it was feeding on the flowers.  I didn't get any open wing photos at all.  I'm pretty sure this is a male, but it also could be the short-tailed swallowtail.  Hard to tell since it was always moving so fast.

Turns out I have both Painted Ladies (see first Butterfly Bush post) AND American Ladies.  In this photo you can see the two large eyespots on this American Lady (Painted Ladies have more).

And the little hummingbird moths are back - the snowberry clearwing.  In the first and last photo you can just barely see the outline of its clear wings which is where it gets its name.

I'm glad all my regular visitors are back!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Wickford, Rhode Island

Friday I spent the day with a friend in Wickford, an historic village that is part of North Kingstown, RI.  There are all kinds of unique little shops and restaurants along the waterfront, along with houses that were built as far back as the 1700s.  We got into Wickford before 10:00 am and found out that most shops don't open until 10:00 so we began our trek with a cup of coffee at a great little cafe.

By the time we finished our coffee, all the shops were open.

These wonderful little paintings were displayed outside one shop.

By the time we wandered around to every shop we wanted to visit, it was time for lunch.  It was a really warm day - supposed to be around 90 in Providence, but since we were close to the water, I think it was a little cooler.  We had a seat in the shade and there was a wonderful little breeze blowing.

Then we got in the car and took a little drive to see some wonderful historic houses...

(I love the door on this house - built in 1796!)

and the Wickford marina.

When I first took this picture, the seagull was so still I thought it was a statue.

But it wasn't!

There were cormorants lining this little dock.

This seagull had caught himself a little snack - a crayfish.

All in all we had a wonderful time.  We also stopped a couple of other places on the way back home, but I'll save those photos for the next post.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Butterfly Bush

There's a reason why the Butterfly Bush is called such; it really does attract butterflies as well as all other kinds of flying things - especially all types of flies, wasps, and bees.  And the cricket hunting wasp or digger wasp is also back (see this post for more on it) - zooming around as if it just can't make a decision about where to land.  Every year I wait to see if I can capture pictures of butterflies that have never visited before.  This year I cut my two butterfly bushes way back probably a little later in spring than usual.  Every year my neighbors think I've killed them for sure and every year they grow back bigger than the year before which is the reason I have to keep pruning them.  Because I cut it back later than usual it took a little longer for them to start blooming this year and a little longer for all the flying things to discover them, but now everything is in full swing.

I always get a lot of monarchs, and usually yellow swallowtails although I haven't seen any swallowtails yet this year.  But I have gotten some new visitors.  Even though some are rather common, I'm always excited when I get a new specimen.  Here are my new visitors which I have tried to identify - some more successfully than others.

I think this might be a Wild Indigo Duskywing, or a Horace's Duskywing??  I didn't get a closed wing picture so am not sure, but think it's definitely in the Duskywing family.  Evidently there are quite a few that look similar.  It has a rather checkerboard wing pattern that's a bit unusual and even though it isn't brightly colored, I think it's pretty and definitely welcome.

My next new visitor is the silver-spotted skipper.

The first photo isn't in focus but it was the only photo I was able to get that has the best angle to see where it got its name.  In more subdued light its spot looks white and rather random, as though it had flown too close to a can of white paint.  But in the bright sunlight the spot really does shine silver with just a hint of blue.

The next visitor is also in the skipper family, but I'm not sure of the exact species.

In the bottom photo you can clearly see its proboscis and I was able to watch it move it from flower to flower sipping nectar.  Maybe a least skipper?  The bright sun faded out the colors and detail a bit so it's hard to tell.  It was very patient with me and allowed several very tight shots, but it never opened its wings while it was sitting there.

I took photos of another little orange skipper last year, but am not sure whether they are the same species or not.  Here is last year's open wing photo.

The next visitor I thought was new, but found an unidentified butterfly photo from last year that matches (I think) the closed wing photo from this year - the Painted Lady, also known as the Cosmopolitan.

You can see the multiple eyespots - the American Lady only has two large eyespots.  This is the open wing photo from last year.

I've also seen hummingbirds, dragonflies and damselflies around the bushes.

It's always interesting to look out the window occasionally to see what other visitors have arrived.